When we think of occupational health and safety, it is a natural response to think of the prevention of deaths and injuries and of course, these are very important safety responsibilities.
The current global pandemic, however, has highlighted the need for organizations to really focus on employee health. With the need for social distancing, hand washing, wearing of face coverings and more, we are now thinking in detail about preventing the spread of illness and for many of us, this is a new consideration. In future, the spread of communicable diseases amongst the workforce will need to be more prominent in the health and safety assessments previously dominated by trip hazards and working from heights. Accordingly, health and safety and standards such as ISO 45001 have a much wider audience than ever before.
How certification to ISO 45001 can help
The internationally recognized ISO 45001:2018 – Occupational health and safety management systems certification standard is a way of managing risks and creating better working conditions. You’re not required by law to implement ISO 45001 however; it will provide a framework to help you implement safe working practices and a healthy environment in which to work. Implementing the certification will help you demonstrate compliance with the relevant health and safety laws. It also may be a requirement to tender in certain supply chains and is becoming increasingly popular in the retail sector.
The framework will encourage employees at all levels to be mindful of health and have a commitment to improve continually.
Implementing ISO 45001
ISO 45001 follows the Annex SL common clause structure, making it easy to integrate with other management systems standards.
The standard identifies two types of risks and you must clearly define them proactively and not reactively:
- Assessing the occupational health and safety risks – this includes hazards and other risks that could come from the internal and external issues identified earlier in the standard. This should include any changes in legislative requirements and consider the needs of interested parties in addition to employees.
- Hazard identification – you will look at hazards that are present in your organization regularly and also ones that could arise in potential emergency situations.
An important point to ISO 45001 is the consultation and participation of workers in clause 5 – Leadership. The understanding and collaboration of employees are particularly important when it comes to social distancing; taking the responsibility to wash hands and wear face coverings.
The consultation and participation of colleagues is covered frequently throughout the standard and employees are at the heart of the standard. It is important they are properly trained to ensure their participation in contributing to running the management system.